(Washington, D.C., May 7, 2014)— Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced the launch of the Rural Pride campaign to elevate and address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people living in rural communities across the country.

The goal of the campaign is to challenge the stereotype that LGBTQ people live only in metropolitan areas by elevating the voices and stories of LGBTQ people living in rural America. The campaign will also raise awareness of the particular issues faced by LGBTQ rural communities including increased rates of economic insecurity, lack of family protections, lack of nondiscrimination protections, and the heightened challenges facing rural LGBTQ youth and rural LGBTQ people of color.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a series of day-long summits hosted by USDA, NCLR, and local partners based in rural communities across the country. These summits will focus on the unique needs of the rural LGBTQ community, highlight the efforts the Obama administration has undertaken to protect this community, and identify next steps to ensure all rural communities have access to the resources they need to thrive.

The kick-off summit will take place on June 6th in Greensboro, North Carolina and will be co-hosted by USDA, NCLR, and the LGBTQ Law Center. The event will take place at North Carolina A&T State University. The keynote address and luncheon will be sponsored by the True Colors Fund.

Said USDA Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights Dr. Joe Leonard: “The Rural Pride campaign will allow us to focus on the particular needs of the LGBTQ people who make their homes and their lives in the communities that USDA is proud to serve. We could not be more proud to partner with NCLR on this campaign. It is an opportunity to showcase the diversity of rural America and highlight one of USDA’s fundamental values: We represent and are here to serve all people.”

Added NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert: “We are incredibly excited about this chance to highlight the needs of LGBTQ people in rural America. Too often, these issues have been ignored and, as a result, rural LGBTQ people too often are marginalized both in the LGBTQ community and in the rural communities where they live. We are grateful for USDA’s leadership in targeting and addressing the needs of this community.”